Attorneys up in arms over lack of safe parking at PE courthouses

A lack of safe parking at two Port Elizabeth courthouses has resulted in attorneys being attacked by those they are meant to defend.

In recent months, private defence attorneys working at the New Brighton and Gelvandale courts have been targeted by criminals while parking in front of the two courts.

This comes after management at both courts stopped private attorneys from using a secure parking lot allocated for officials.

This is despite the fact that behind the New Brighton courthouse is a big open space.

A letter was written last year informing the attorneys that the department of justice was not obligated to provide parking for anyone except staff.

Department spokesman Mandla Mathebula said it had been established that parking at the New Brighton court was limited as the lawn on which staff currently parked was not a designated parking area.

“The discretion to allow private vehicles to park inside the court complex vests with court manager Andrew Witbooi.

“His decision was in line with departmental policy and it has been established that the procedure followed was fair and consistent, and was addressed to all stakeholders.”

Mathebula said due process had been followed in ensuring that alternative parking was made available in front of and opposite the complex as well as at the neighbouring police station and municipal offices.

Aggrieved attorneys said open land, particularly in New Brighton, was available, and few cars used the parking lot.

Port Elizabeth attorney Alwyn Griebenow said his vehicle had been broken into late in 2017 after he parked in front of the New Brighton court.

“I noticed a man coming towards me,” he said.

“I did not make much of him and proceeded to court, where my case was postponed.

“When I got back to my vehicle the doors were standing open and my files were blowing around the street.”

Griebenow said he had appealed to the court management to secure safe parking for lawyers, but nothing had come of it.

Attorney Kuban Chetty said three attorneys from his office had been targeted, including a recent incident in which a woman attorney had been confronted by a man with a gun.

Senior attorney Danie Oelofse said he had been accosted by a number of taxi drivers three weeks ago while attempting to find a parking space in front of the New Brighton building.

“After being accosted and threatened with assault, I had to leave the area and only returned two hours later.

“This resulted in my case being delayed.

“I feel private attorneys are being discriminated against by the system,” he said.